As can be read over at the  Team Grumpy blog, the Icknield 32k time trial today was a bit of a disaster.  Last year my team mate punctured en route to the start, so we rode separately (and therefore got no result), while this year I had a mechanical problem which prevented me from starting.  The problem stemmed indirectly from yesterday’s puncture sustained while returning from the NBRC club time trial.

My current time trial bike has these nice pedals – Speedplay X-1 titaniumpedals:

Speedplay X-1 pdeal and cleat

Speedplay X-1 pdeal and cleat

You’ll note that the cleat (or “shoeplate” in British) is rather different than in other pedal systems where the clipping action resides in the pedal itself.  Here the clip action is within the shoeplate, which is quite large and complex, containing a couple of heavy gauge wire springs.  It was this design feature which led to my downfall this morning.

While trudging home yesterday, I walked for a time on the verge, which led to the accumulation of mud on  my shoes.  Upon getting home, I cleaned then washed off all the mud I could see, and checked that the springs in the shoeplate at least moved.  What I didn’t do, of course was check that they would still engage the pedal.

At the point Team Grumpy was about to ride off to the start, I realised I couldn’t clip onto the pedals.  I was unable to clear up this problem in time to get the ride in, and my team mate ended up riding solo (but in the 2-up section, so received a ‘DNF’).  In the end I had to disassemble the shoeplates, and extract a tiny quantity of mud that was preventing each spring from moving the full amount.

So, there’s a lesson there – Speedplays, which are otherwise excellent pedals which offer unrivalled float and very smooth clipping action, have cleats which are really quite sensitive to the ingress of mud. In future I’ll take better care of them!